Summertime sizzles in The County

3 years ago

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Aroostook County residents will see the mercury rise to the mid-80s again on Tuesday, but relief from the warm, humid conditions is expected to roll in on Wednesday.

Caribou recorded a high of 84 degrees on Sunday, June 27, according to the National Weather Service office, and actually set a record for the highest low temperature at 69 degrees.

Temperatures reached 86 in Presque Isle, 84 in Houlton and 83 at Frenchville, with dewpoints in the mid-60s and low 70s creating a sweltering feel. 

Monday’s highs were 83 in Houlton, 82 in Caribou and 80 in Presque Isle and Frenchville. Bangor broke a record that day, with its high of 95 degrees beating the previous record of 94 set in 1941.

In the midst of the heat, the splash pad at Presque Isle’s Riverside Park recreation area has been swamped — not only with local residents, but people from all over.

“We’ve sold a lot of slushies in the last 48 hours,” Andrew Perry, program director for the Presque Isle Recreation and Parks Department, said Tuesday. 

“People have been coming from near and far,” Perry said. “Anybody who has Presque Isle or the Aroostook County area as a part of their vacation destination, they make the splash pad a part of their stop.”

Visitors from Connecticut and Massachusetts make up the majority of tourists, he said, but the department has fielded many calls from downstate and other areas. The splash pad, which runs on automation, is open from 10 a.m. until dusk, seven days of the week.

There is no charge to use the pad. Though officials have discussed the concept, Perry said they prefer to keep it open to everyone, obtaining revenue only from the concession stand.

“The County’s a vacation destination, so now that’s one more thing to add to their list,” he said.

Elsewhere around The County, people were enjoying the day by taking to the water in different ways. 

MADAWASKA, Maine — June 29, 2021 — Jordan Theriault splashes through the water with her flippers to join the other kids swimming in Long Lake at Birch Point Beach. (Hannah Catlin | St. John Valley Times)

In Madawaska, kids and parents alike cooled off the old-fashioned way, enjoying the respite of the cool waters of Long Lake at Birch Point Beach. In the shallows, younger children splashed around in life vests and swim fins while the older kids dove down into the deeper water.

Drews Lake in Houlton attracted water-seekers, and in Fort Kent youngsters sought refreshing dips in the town pool.

In Caribou, which has been without a water facility since its pool closed in 2014, people will have a few more weeks to wait for their own splash pad, said Caribou Recreation and Parks Superintendent Gary Marquis Tuesday.

“We are anticipating [opening] in the next two weeks. We’re waiting for plumbing parts and still need to finish up the landscaping around the pad,” Marquis said.

The pad will have 16 different spraying units, several above the ground and some in the ground. Staff plan to speed up the site’s completion by installing what Marquis called “instant grass.”   

“We want to get it opened as soon as we can, so we are going to cut sod in one of our other parks in Caribou and we’re going to lay the grass down by the splash pad,” he said.

The wave of warmth is expected to clear out Wednesday with rain in the north, followed by a cooler front. Highs for the rest of the week were expected to dip from the mid-70s to high 60s on Friday.

Reporters Hannah Catlin, Jessica Potila and Alexander MacDougall contributed to this story.

FORT KENT, Maine — Grayson Roy, 10, leaps off the diving board at the Fort Kent town pool during an early summer heatwave. (Jessica Potila | St. John Valley Times)